Cucumber pickles

Adapted from Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz

Fermented cucumbers, now widely referred to as pickles, make a delicious snack or savory accompaniment. The following is a delightfully simple method to prepare some of the very best pickles you’ve ever tasted!

Makes 1 gallon

Equipment:

  • 2 half-gallon mason jars with lids (may use 4 quart-size jars instead)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon/4 liters):

  • 3 to 4 pounds unwaxed cucumbers (small to medium size)
  • 3⁄8 cup (6 tablespoons) sea salt
  • 3 to 4 heads fresh flowering dill, or 3 to 4 tablespoons/45 to 60 milliliters of any form of dill (fresh or dried leaf or seeds)
  • 2 to 3 heads (yes, heads) garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or horseradish leaves, if available (the tannins in these leaves will help maintain superior crunchiness)
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns

Process:

  1. Rinse cucumbers, taking care to not bruise them, and making sure their blossoms are removed. Scrape off any remains at the blossom end. If you’re using cucumbers that aren’t fresh off the vine that day, soak them for a couple of hours in very cold water to freshen them.
  2. Dissolve sea salt in ½ gallon of water to create brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Clean the jars, then place at the bottom of it dill, garlic, fresh grape leaves, and a pinch of black peppercorns.
  4. Place cucumbers in the jars.
  5. Pour brine over the cucumbers. If the brine doesn’t cover them, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 tablespoon of salt to each cup of water.
  6. Cover the jars and store them in a cool place.
  7. Taste the pickles after a few days.
  8. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check them every day.
  9. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.

About Leigh Hallett

Leigh has been Executive Director of the Federation since 2014. She can be reached by email (director@mffm.org) or by calling the MFFM offices (487-7114).